Essay on Poetry that Exemplifies the Characteristics of The Romantic Movement

Essay on Poetry that Exemplifies the Characteristics of The Romantic Movement

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The Romantic Movement was largely a response to the emergence of The Enlightenment in Europe, which had prized objectivity and rationality in the human endeavor. However, as the revolutions to topple the aristocracy in Europe gained traction, the Romantic Movement began to turn to emotions more than reason as the true essence of man. The Romantics looked back to the medieval concept of the sublime, the feeling of awe and fear at something transcendent. Thus, the Romantic Movement prioritized feelings and emotions over reason or intellect. This paper will discuss William Wordsworth's "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud," Percy Bysshe Shelley's "Ozymandias," and John Keats "Ode to a Grecian Urn" as poems that exemplify the primacy of the emotion over reason, as they are all products of the Romantic Movement.
William Wordsworth's "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" is a poem that features a persona experiencing the beauty of nature. The persona sees the beauty of nature and revels in the beauty of "A host, of golden daffodils (li. 4)." The persona perceives these flowers as possessing emotions, as the daffodils were "Tossing their heads in sprightly dance... they/ Out-did the sparkling waves in glee (li. 12-14)." In response, the persona likewise feels the flowers' happiness, saying that "A poet could not but be gay,/ In such a jocund company (li. 15-16)." The most important lines that indicate the adherence of the poem to the Romantic movement is when the persona says that "I gazed-and gazed-but little thought/ What wealth the show to me had brought (li. 17-18)." As he looked at the daffodils that brought him the emotion of joy, he was not thinking at all, but feeling. At the end of the poem, when he would feel "vacant or in pensive mood (li. ...


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... persona that render emotional scenes of madness and ecstasy: "What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?/ What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?/ What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy (li. 8-10)?" The persona then admires the miracle of art that is the Grecian urn, because by rendering into silence and stillness the emotional scenes it depicts, the urn is able to render such scenes immortal: "All breathing human passion far above,/ That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy'd,/ A burning forehead, and a parching tongue (li. 28-30)." The beauty of art relies on capturing and preserving emotion. Moreover, the persona insists that great art such as the Grecian urn should be able to "tease us out of thought (li. 54)," and instead focus on emotions. This is clear proof of the Romantic ideals that drive the poem, as emotions are more important than thought.

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